Midpoint Review - ACC

Midpoint Review: ACC basketball

1/31/14 in NCAABB   |   EdIsaacson   |   15 respect

Jan 29, 2014; Winston-Salem, NC, USA;   Syracuse Orange forward C.J. Fair (5) lays the ball up over Wake Forest Deamon Deacons guard Madison Jones (1) during the second half at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Syracuse won 67-57.  Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY SportsAs we head into February, we are also reaching about the mid-point for many conference seasons. Over the next two days, I will give some run downs of each major conference. Up first, the ACC:

The Good
  • The two new members of the conference, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, have combined for a 12-2 start in league play and 37-3 record overall. Having Syracuse be one of the three unbeaten teams left in the country is a boon for the conference as well.
  • After an inconsistent start to the season, Duke has gotten back on track and is starting to look again like an NCAA Title contender. The Blue Devils are averaging a conference-high 1.19 points per possession while holding opponents to just 0.97.
  • Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers have won of 7 of 8 so far in conference play, and the pack-line defense he has made a hall mark is leading the way.  Virginia allows teams just .86 points per possession, which is in the top 5 in the country.
  • It is still early, but the Wake Forest basketball program looks to be heading in the right direction. The Demon Deacons are 14-6 and 4-3 in the ACC with wins over North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest.
The Bad
  • No one knows what to make of a North Carolina team that beat Louisville, Kentucky and Michigan State, but is just 13-7 and 3-4 in the ACC. Also, the loss of PJ Hairston left them without a reliable scoring threat other than Marcus Paige. Double-digit wins against Clemson and Georgia Tech in their last two games looked good, but will they keep it going?
  • Notre Dame had high hopes for its first ACC season, but the dismissal of Jerian Grant and some bad losses have the Irish struggling to do well enough for an NIT bid this season.
  • Steve Donahue’s third season at Boston College was supposed to be when the team put it all together, but at 6-14, 2-5 in the ACC, the Eagles may be one of college basketball’s biggest disappointments. With talent like Ryan Anderson and Olivier Hanlan, some of the losses have been inexcusable.  The defense is the major culprit, giving up 1.11 points per possession, worst in the ACC.
The Stars
  • Duke newcomers, freshman Jabari Parker and sophomore Rodney Hood, have both endured ups and downs this season, but collectively give the team the best 1-2 scoring punch in the conference. Parker is averaging almost 19 points per game on 46% shooting and 38% from three-point range, while Hood is at 17.4 on 51.1 and an outstanding 44% from behind the arc. Hood is also one of the standout defenders in the conference.
  • Syracuse freshman Tyler Ennis has shown more poise at the point guard than any freshman in recent history. His ability to get his teammates the ball where they need to and to score when the team needs him to is a big reason why Syracuse is undefeated heading into February.
  • Ennis’ teammate CJ Fair has developed well over his 4 years at Syracuse and has now emerged as the team’s leader and one of the conference’s top scorers.
  • North Carolina State sophomore TJ Warren is as pure a scorer as there is in the country, and leads the ACC in scoring with 22.1 points per game.
  • Pittsburgh senior Lamar Patterson doesn’t do anything flashy, but he does everything his team needs out there. Patterson is averaging 17.7 points, 5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, while shooting 50% from the field and playing tough defense.

NCAA Tournament teams?

Duke, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Virginia will almost all certainly be heading there. The wildcard is a North Carolina team with some tremendous resume wins, but some really bad losses. It’s also possible that you will see Clemson, Florida State, or North Carolina State do enough to make a run at one of the final spots. 
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